"Your Majesty? The delegation from Calormen is arriving tonight, and there is much to do," Captain told him, looking down on the kneeling humans with something almost akin to concern.
"Yes, yes, Captain, I know. Her companion, the tiger, has she been released yet?" the young man looked up, though still holding the girl's hands in his own.
"I have, Your Majesty," a deep rumbling female voice said from behind Captain. A white Tiger stalked passed the Centaur and nudged the girl with her nose. "Come on, girl, up. If you ever want to walk, you better wake those legs up," she ordered, nudging and pushing with her head.
"Come, milady, it's alright. You're safe here, I promise," he told the girl, standing. She looked up and he gently pulled on her hands. Between him and the Tiger, they got her to her feet, and she took a shaky step forward. "Carefully, now, milady," he said, guiding her as she walked. She took a few more steps, gaining balance, strength, and grace with each one. He released her, and she walked a few more steps, and then turned to him.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," she said softly, bowing to him.
"You are quite graceful. Like I said, you certainly do not seem like a peasant," he told her, bowing. "I'll have my Quartermaster settle you in a room. If you need anything, do not hesitate to ask. I'd be most happy if you'd join my siblings and I for the midday meal. Just ask one of the fauns to show you the way," he added. He didn't know what made him ask her to join them, but he was glad he did.
"Oh, Your Majesty, I could never. I'm hardly fit for Royal Company," she replied, aghast.
"Milady, perhaps once you've seen the palace healer, had a nice steaming bath, and gotten clean clothes, you'd feel different," he suggested.
She sighed, and looked into his eyes. He was taken aback by the strength of the emotion in her eyes. She clearly believed she was truly unworthy, and he realized she had no idea she was a queen with no crown. HE saw that somewhere in her past, she'd been forced into the belief and now it was stuck, but she didn't remember. He cursed the person who had destroyed her spirit, because he understood now that like Edmund, her tough and challenging attitude came from having been forced to deal with pain and suffering. Deep in the smoky sapphire color of her eyes, he saw the soul of a sacrifice, someone who'd suffered in the place of another willingly. He saw it, but he knew she couldn't feel it.
Briefly, he wondered if she remembered the color of her eyes, and then she was bowing again, saying, "Very well, Your Majesty, if you insist."
"Insist I do, milady," he replied, nodding. She looked over his shoulder at Captain, and he felt the centaur move. He stepped aside as Captain handed a pack, a bow, a quiver, a dagger and sword to her. First, she tucked the dagger into the pack, and then she carefully unstrung the bow and held it lightly. Last she slung both the pack and quiver over one shoulder and bowed again. He watched her turn and walk towards the steps into the palace, the Tiger at her side. He watched a faun greet her and bow. The he watched as she disappeared from view into his castle.
"You said you found her just south of the Wildlands?" he asked, turning to Captain.
"Yes, sire. When we found her, she and the Tiger were very defensive. I had to send one of the colts around to knock her out from behind. She doesn't seem to rest peacefully, either, and even after she was knocked out, she fussed and writhed if someone touched her," Captain told him.
"So that's what happened to her head. Remind your men that they need to be more careful with humans. Our bodies are far more fragile than a Narnian creature's. What else, Captain?" he replied.
"Sire, she was tied up before we got to her. She may have been tied to the mast on that ship during the storm, but those rope burns were new. She had older marks, and it looked like she'd been manacled and chained, because her wrists were very raw," Captain admitted.
"You think she's a prisoner that escaped?" he asked, looking over his shoulder towards the castle.
"Possibly, Sire. She seemed honest enough when she said she couldn't remember, and I have a feeling she won't remember whatever happened to her. She may remember her past, but there's a reason she's forgotten it all," Captain sighed.
"You think Aslan took her memory, don't you?" the king asked, realizing it was completely possible.
"Yes, Your Majesty," Captain replied. The King nodded and sighed. "When should I send the men to you to give their reports, sire?" the centaur asked.
"Two hours before midday if you would, Captain," Peter sighed, running a hand through his golden hair. Captain was right, the Calormen party would be arriving that night, which meant he had only a few hours to enjoy his freedom before he had to spend the next two weeks entertaining a group of stuck up adults who were going to do their best to undermine him and his siblings. "Very well, Captain, I'm off," he straightened and nodded to the Captain's bow.
Striding towards the castle, he found himself greeted by Tahki, his blue eyed snow leopard personal guard. She whisked her tail across his thigh affectionately and padded beside him as he made his way to one of the ballrooms, where he found Susan and Edmund dancing. Susan's brown hair was pinned up in an elegant swirl and her dark purple dress made the coloring in her cheeks darker than it was. Edmund was concentrating on the music a faun was playing, and Peter watched as he spun and twirled their sister around the dance floor. Edmund's dark hair was freshly cut and neat for once in his life, which made Peter smile. The dark green shirt he wore had loose sleeves until the elbows, where they became tight and fitted, and it matched his gray pants and black knee high boots well.
He felt a tug on his sleeve and turned to find his youngest sister Lucy standing beside him, grinning up at him. She wore a pale pink dress and her dark hair spilled around her face and shoulders. He took her hands and led her onto the floor, where he bowed and smiled at her. "Could I have the honor of a dance, Your Highness?" he asked.
His chest swelled with pride as she curtsied and placed her hand in his. His siblings had learned well how to handle formalities for the pace everything had been thrown at them all at once. "You may, Your Majesty," she replied. He took her by her small waist and twirled her around and around the room, going the opposite direction of his siblings.
"King Peter, might I have a word?" a faun's voice cut through their music, and they stopped to see their Quartermaster standing in one of the doorways, between Tahki and Lucy's lion Glimmer.
"Yes, Hinry?" Peter asked, letting go of his sister.
"The girl, sire, I don't know where to put her. She refuses every ladies' room I offer, saying she just needs a simple bed and nothing more," Hinry sighed, his tail flicking back and forth anxiously.
"What girl?" Susan demanded.
"A moment, Hinry?" Peter asked.
"Of course, Sire," the faun replied, backing out of the door.
"The girl my Northern Patrol brought in this morning. She was alone, besides her tiger, and she had been shipwrecked," Peter told his siblings. Susan murmured in sympathy, Lucy gasped, and Edmund sighed.
"She's human?" he asked his elder brother.
"Yes. I think she's a Daughter of Eve," Peter replied.
Author's Note: Reviews would be really appreciated!